WTO sees global growth continuing into first quarter

New Zealand's export trade is also running at record levels.

The World Trade Organisation says the global recovery of last year is continuing with strong growth in merchandise goods volumes into the first quarter of this year.

The latest World Trade Outlook Indicator shows container port throughput and air freight are firmly above trend, while export orders have reached their highest level since 2011.

However, the current value of goods is little changed from that recorded last November.

Weaker results are observed for automotive products, agricultural raw materials and electronic components, which could indicate a weakening of consumer sentiment.

“While the trade recovery may moderate in due course, it will likely continue in the coming months and remain above trend,” WTO director-general Roberto Azevêdo says.

“Overall, these results are somewhat stronger than the WTO's most recent trade forecast issued on September 21, 2017, which forecast merchandise trade volume growth of 3.6% for 2017 and 3.2% in 2018.”

The next WTO trade forecast update is anticipated in early April.

Readings of 100 indicate growth in line with medium-term trends; readings greater than 100 suggest above trend growth, while those below 100 indicate the reverse.

The direction of change reflects momentum compared with the previous month. The WTOI has recorded readings of 102 or higher since February 2017, which coincided with a strengthening of global trade flows.

New Zealand shares in boom
Meanwhile, New Zealand's exports are running at record levels. Latest figures show exports of milk powder, butter and cheese lifted the total to a record $5.6 billion in December 2017. Monthly exports were $1.1 billion higher than in December 2016.

“Record export values of dairy products drove total exports to their highest-ever monthly value,” international statistics manager Tehseen Islam says. “The previous highest values for both dairy exports and total exports were recorded in the 2013/14 dairy export season, when dairy prices were at a high level.”

Total import values were $4.9 billion in December 2017, up $494 million (11%) from December 2016. The largest rise in import values was in mechanical machinery and equipment (such as aircraft parts), up $141 million (21%) from December 2016.

The monthly trade balance was $640 million (12% of exports), the largest in any December month and the largest in any month since March 2015 ($661 million).

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